Heritage Commission Recommends Woodmont Commons Site Designs

The Heritage Commission unanimously recommended to the Planning Board conceptual designs for the redevelopment of the former Market Basket site, the first phase of development for Woodmont Commons.

Commissioners were impressed with plans for the strip mall, which feature individualized design elements for each of the retails and high-quality materials.

Confirmed tenants of the proposed shopping center include the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet, Annie’s Hallmark, Olympia Sports, T.J. Maxx and Home Goods.

“We want to build on the historic character,” architect Eric Brown said. “Our approach to projects is as a retail center, but we don’t want it to feel like a strip, which is just one continuous canopy with some signs on it. We think a much more successful approach, like a town or village, which develops over time, is where each tenant has its own character and its own brand.”

Larger retails like Olympia Sports, TJ Maxx and Home Goods will have an industrial looks, with features like brick, corrugated metal and metal canopies, while Annie’s Hallmark will feature clapboard siding, a small tower and a trellis.

“I love this client because they want to spend money on the quality of the materials. If you drive around, you’re not going to find brick masonry, wood, heavy timber block, and this kind of details, this kind of money spent on a facade,” Brown said.

“I can tell you they’re spending more money on the exterior of this,” Town Council Liaison Jim Butler said. “I’m happy with the fact they’re going to use brick, they’re going to use cultured stone. It’s going to be a lot softer than what we see here (in the renderings).”

Overall, the development will result in a total of 186,000 square feet of retail space, a reduction of about 30,000 square feet.

According to a traffic study completed as part of the plan, the 30,000-square-foot reduction in retail space is expected to reduce traffic in the plaza; but commissioners said with the addition of Home Goods and T.J. Maxx, they would anticipate more congestion in the area.

Woodmont attorney Ari Pollack said they are having discussions about relieving Garden Lane with a backdoor entrance to Woodmont Commons.

The proposed 33-acre redevelopment project includes bringing in a boulevard entrance to the site, taking down the original Market Basket building, and eventually developing smaller pads totaling 42,220 square feet along the boulevard, according to Jeff Kevan, a civil engineer with TF Moran, Inc.

The plan is the first of a series of Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) the developer will be bringing forward.

“We’re trying to do two things at the same time – add on and redevelop what exists, but also make the entry a gateway to the rest of the project. What we’re doing behind the parking lot needs to fit in with what’s there already, but we’re going to take advantage of the entry boulevard that the new road will create to try to break those pads out into some more attractive architecture,” Pollack said. “We know these are 360-degree buildings, so they need to be attractive on all sides. We don’t have any tenants yet. We’re going to drive the architecture as the owners, and we want to use these smaller stores to create a little bit better sense of place and break up the architecture a lot. So were looking at small restaurants, a bank – smaller users where you can get a lot more interesting, and architecture on four sides.”

“There has to be a transition, if we take a look at what Woodmont Commons wants to do. I think the transition will be more on the exterior pads, where, in my opinion, we’ll have a lot more flexibility with the style, what it looks like. That will be more key than the strip mall,” Butler said.

Moving forward, Pollack said the developers have put the project out to bid and hope to begin demolition in January.

“We’ll work right through the winter,” he said. “We’re hoping to have everything open by May.”

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